Canadian opposition leader Erin O’Toole spoke to his party’s concerns regarding the rise of antisemitism in Canada that he said: “should be condemned in all forms.”
“Antisemitism takes many forms,” he said: "Some of them are blatant like slurs and taunts towards members of the Jewish community. Or when a synagogue is vandalized.” He adds that Jewish families are taking mezuzahs from their doorways for fear of being attacked.
The Trudeau government is hosting an antisemitism summit Wednesday to hear concerns from Canada's Jewish community regarding a rise in antisemitic hatred.
CTV News reports that the summit will be attended by various politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, liberal ministers, opposition leaders, premiers, and mayors.
Leaders from Canada's Jewish community will also be attending the summit, including Irwin Cotler, Canada's special envoy for preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism. Cotler said he plans to bring up the fact that antisemitism is not just on the rise in Canada, but also around the world.
“More and more, we’re seeing a kind of ‘polite antisemitism’ that gets a quiet acceptance from too many corners in our society,” said O’Toole: “It calls itself 'anti-Zionism' so that it can try to be more socially acceptable."
He adds: “That it can find a place on our university campuses advocating for boycotts, divestments and sanctions. That it can find a place in our newsrooms when Israel is defending itself from Hamas rockets so that it can find a place in the halls of power.”
Cotler said Canada's Jewish community are targeted and threatened, as synagogues, memorials and Jewish institutions are being vandalized. Data from Jewish human rights organization B'nai Brith Canada backs Cotler's claims, having recorded 2,610 antisemitic incidents in 2020. This makes it the fifth year in a row where the record for antisemitic incidents is broken.
Cotler plans to propose a 10-point action plan aimed at fighting antisemitism in Canada, which is growing nationwide and globally. He adds that Canada can learn from the successes and failures of European countries who devised plans to combat antisemitism.
O’Toole notes that Canada’s governing coalition includes Jews, Muslims and Christians, among peoples of other faiths, and condemned those “looking for a quick headline” by calling Israel an apartheid state. “Canada’s Conservatives stand with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and our ally,” he said, adding how he is proud they were among the first countries to recognize the sovereignty of Israel.
“Under my leadership, Canada will once again fight efforts to demonize Israel at the United Nations (UN) that far too often cross the line into antisemitism,” said O’Toole: “Canada and Israel have a longstanding relationship marked by close ties. Since its modern rebirth, Israel has become not just a strong democracy, but a free and pluralistic society. Antisemitism, in all its forms, has to be opposed because it has no place in Canada.”
The Trudeau government also plans to hold a national summit on Islamophobia later this week. There is however no plan to hold a national summit on anti-Christian hate, despite at least 18 churches being torched and over 26 vandalized.
“Canada needs to be a champion of freedom and democracy in the world and to stand strong with our allies against aggression, whether from terrorists or from governments like the Iranian regime,” O'Toole said, concluding with a commitment to continue to stand up for “Jewish voices” and condemn antisemitism.